The internet has more deals on guns and accessories than anywhere else, especially on hard-to-find items. But historically the internet hasn’t been the safest or easiest place to buy. GunTab aims to change that.
GunTab calls itself “the only safe payments for guns, ammo, and accessories.” That feels like a bold statement. But it might not be wrong. With most payments buyers are at risk of scams and sellers are at risk of chargebacks. GunTab says it’s special because it’s escrow. It holds the buyer’s payment until the buyer gets what he paid for, which fully protects against scams and chargebacks.
Let’s learn more about the history of paying for guns online, and the pros and cons of GunTab, before our conclusion about whether GunTab is worth a try.
History of Paying for Guns Online
There are many internet marketplaces for guns, like GunBroker (1999) and Armslist (2007). But few offer payment processing, and even fewer offer it to non-FFLs. Obviously most people aren’t FFLs, so most people have to figure out payments on their own. Historically, money orders and PayPal have been the most popular choices.
Using PayPal to Buy Guns Online
Over time, PayPal became the most popular way for ordinary people to get paid for gun-related transactions online. But in retrospect, that was only because it was the best of the available options. PayPal was actually a dangerous way to handle anything related to guns. That’s because PayPal prohibited ”ammunition, firearms, [and] certain firearm parts [and] accessories.” Therefore PayPal buyer protection – the gold standard in ecommerce – doesn’t apply. (GunTab says this is true for all payment platforms, including Venmo and Zelle.) This explains why so many buyers still get scammed when using PayPal. Also, PayPal offers no chargeback protection for sellers. If a buyer disputes the charge, PayPal will take the funds back from the seller. Finally, there is PayPal’s long history of freezing accounts and seizing money. In fact, that recently prompted a fresh lawsuit against PayPal. Basically, PayPal’s popularity for gun-related transactions is in spite of its many dangers.
Failed Online Gun Payment Options
In response to the PayPal ban on gun-related transactions, a company called GunPal launched in 2009 as a PayPal clone for the firearms community. Unfortunately it failed shortly after, “almost certainly because [it] was overrun by fraud.”
It’s noteworthy that firearm payment scams are so common that even marketplaces have attempted to solve the problem. GunBroker is the largest firearm marketplace. It introduced its Buyer’s Protection Program over 10 years ago. But that didn’t solve the problem. It turns out “Even if you assume GunBroker approves your claim, you will always lose between 20% and 100% of your payment.” So firearm payment scams were still a problem even with the biggest marketplace.
Launch of GunTab Payments
GunTab launched in 2015, with the goal of offering safe, simple, online payments for guns, ammo, and accessories. It started with bank account payments, and introduced credit card payments in 2019. It has always been available to both FFLs and non-FFLs. And it seems to have done what nobody else could. It seems to have finally solved the problem of easy online payments without the danger of scams.
Pros of Using GunTab
Safety is definitely the first advantage. GunTab says it fully protects buyers from scams, and fully protects buyers from chargebacks. That’s a big deal, because it doesn’t seem like any other option can do both of those things. For example, money orders don’t expose the seller to chargebacks, but they expose the buyer to scams. PayPal payments are even worse – they expose the seller to chargebacks, AND they expose the buyer to scams. This is where GunTab really shines as “the only safe payments online”.
Convenience is another big upside. GunTab is similar to PayPal because buyers can pay by credit card or bank account, and sellers get a direct deposit to their bank account. It was easy to get started. Opening an account is free, and very simple. The dashboard has prominent buttons to “pay for something” and “get paid for something”. The interfaces are simple and have help tips. Basically anybody can get started without difficulty.
Easy Step by Step Gun Payments
Another thing we really liked about the GunTab process is the step-by-step guidance. Early in the transaction, GunTab asks if the transaction is for a gun, ammo, receiver, magazine, or something else. Then it helps you understand the law in your jurisdiction for that particular type of item. It isn’t something that would help experienced buyers or sellers much, but it could be a big deal for newbies who are unsure what they need to watch out for.
It’s also worth mentioning that the customer support is top notch. Apparently we aren’t the only ones who have noticed this. People mention the great customer support in many of the reviews about GunTab we found online.
Cons of Using GunTab
The main downside of GunTab is that it’s slow, at least for the seller. Sellers are accustomed to getting paid up front, then shipping the goods. GunTab reverses that. Sellers have to wait to get paid until the goods have been not only shipped but delivered. To be fair, maybe that’s the way it always should have been, because it puts the buyer on even footing with the seller. But it could be frustrating for sellers who prefer getting paid up front.
Using Credit Card for Online Gun Payments
Another downside of GunTab is the 3.3% surcharge on credit card payments. Apparently GunTab doesn’t earn anything from this surcharge. They say this is a direct cost that they are simply passing along. If you don’t want to pay a surcharge, you can pay by bank account for free. But that adds a few days while you wait for payment processing. If you want to move quickly, you have to pay the credit card surcharge.
Conclusion: Is GunTab worth it?
Yes, GunTab is definitely worth a try. If you’re an FFL it’s at least a nice-to-have, because it automates your online transactions and eliminates chargebacks. But if you’re a non-FFL it’s nothing short of a game-changer. Totally safe payments, by credit card or bank account, in a convenient package with great customer service. Nothing else can come close, at least when it comes to gun-related transactions. If you don’t want all the dangers of PayPal/Venmo/Zelle, then GunTab is basically the only game in town.
It’s actually surprising that more people aren’t using GunTab. If you look online, you’ll see tons of people still handling payments with PayPal. Now that GunTab exists, it seems crazy to use PayPal. We suspect most people simply haven’t heard about GunTab yet. Here’s to getting the word out there. We should all be using GunTab.